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Women in Leadership

Women often underestimate themselves. We minimize our abilities and authority because we’re conditioned to think that to be a woman is to be passive and insecure. We accept the lie that confidence is worthy of censure in women and cause for praise in men. Assertive women are often accused of being vain, proud, or deliberately rebellious. Observing this, many of us censor our words and actions to avoid appearing too aggressive or assertive. From a young age, bold girls are shamed for being “too bossy.” Strong women are punished for defying the patriarchal model for submissive womanhood. Tragically, some Christian women defend and bolster patriarchy and some even persecute strong women, labeling them arrogant and sinful. Some women choose to strengthen the existing patria... Read more
This article is the third in a three-part series in response to the recent Twitter conversations on #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear, #ThingsBlackChristianWomenHear, and #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear. Read Part 1: "3 Ways The Church Can Love Sexual Assault Survivors" and Part 2: Too Pretty To Pastor."   We all know the schoolyard chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” In growing up, we learn that however empowering this phrase may seem, it is far from true. We all bear the scars of careless words: some harshly spoken in anger, some spoken with good intentions but still just as hurtful. These words that wound also have the power to shape how we see the world and our own place in it. Sarah Bessey started the hashtag #Thin... Read more
I recently attended my denomination’s annual pastors’ conference. At the gathering, I saw men and women equally represented in the pulpit, on the worship team, and among those making announcements. The diversity I witnessed made me smile. I saw many women leaders in attendance and I celebrated them. Yet, I know that their journeys have not been easy. There are female pioneers in the church ministering without mentors or role models. There are women with a gift for preaching who have been restricted and diminished by legalism. There are women with broken hearts who have been betrayed by the body of Christ. And there are women who have been forced to serve without an official title—simply because they are women. Many of these women were born into churches that expected th... Read more
Sarah Rodriguez
This is the third installment in CBE’s celebratory series: Women’s History Wednesday. In our first installment, Rachel Asproth explored four strategies that patriarchal history has used to erase women. In our second installment and in our upcoming installments, Sarah Rodriguez, a former CBE intern, will profile three subversive egalitarian women who bucked gender expectations to make history.  In shining a light on these women’s stories, we will defy patriarchy’s attempts to marginalize the historical contributions of women. Instead, we will unashamedly celebrate their courage and persistence. Last week, we told the inspiring story of Shannon Lucid, a woman who persevered against the prevailing biases of her day in order to become part of the first class... Read more
The recent election has prompted significant reflection for many evangelicals, including notable contributions from Christianity Today managing editor Katelyn Beaty[1], Fuller president Mark Labberton and Fuller president emeritus Richard Mouw[2], and Northeastern assistant professor of New Testament Esau McCaulley[3], who writes about being black, evangelical, and an Anglican priest. I appreciate these insights on the future of evangelicalism, especially those coming from evangelicals of color. Yet it’s time for some additional reflection on one important microcosm of evangelicalism—the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), which shapes and reflects the state of the majority of evangelical institutions of higher education.[4] A few days after the election, the ETS... Read more
I want to confess something to you: I am a sinful woman. To some, I am sinful when I preach. To others, I am sinful when I teach. To even more, I am sinful when I serve communion, lead worship, or read the Bible aloud to a mixed group of people. I have committed these “sins” time and time again—willingly, even eagerly. Let me confess something else to you: I will continue to live in such “sin.” I’m sure I am not the only one, not the only sinful woman in the room. Can I get an “amen”? Who else here has been condemned for their preaching? Silenced for their teaching? Who else can raise a hand to these “sins” in agreement? Yes, me too! Here is a hopeful truth, love: you are in good company. These days, I am h... Read more
Recently, a friend of mine was asked why she chose to work, and not stay home full-time with her child, even though her husband makes enough money to support their family. The question is unsurprising given the ongoing pressure on Christian women to prioritize home and family over career. It seems that Christian women are still expected to choose between the public and the private. Being a more even-tempered person than I am, my friend sidestepped the question. Later, she asked me how I would have responded. I work outside the home, because it’s the best fit for my family and marriage. But virtually all parents are trying to do what’s right for their families. We all have different callings, and we all live them out in unique, creative ways. Some women pursue professional... Read more
There are several passages in the New Testament that list the spiritual gifts believers receive for the purpose of building up of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4). Much has been written about these lists and their implications, particularly for how we ought to recognize and understand spiritual gifts in the church. We are called to honor and uplift all the different parts of the body of Christ, celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of believers’ spiritual gifts. I believe that these lists are intended to serve as simple reminders to Christians that the purpose of having gifts is to serve God and our fellow believers. In other words, all gifts are meant to be used and used well, regardless of gender. “Each of you should use whatev... Read more
The other day, a good friend of mine was told that she looks like a "pastor's wife." She was a bit confused about how she could possibly "look like a pastor's wife." I assume she was told this because she has a heart for the lost. She helped start and build a thriving youth ministry. She organizes events, preaches, and holds Bible studies. Any man doing the same (or even less) would be told that he could be a pastor. So why the difference? Sexism is lurking in the walls of the conservative church. In subtle ways, the church is telling women that they aren't invited to the decision-making table. There is a quietly oppressive system in place that ensures women know their place (which is not behind the pulpit or in any position of leadership). M... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, I shared five strategies for helping churches create space for women in church leadership positions with the ultimate goal of ensuring equal opportunity for women at all levels of leadership. These strategies are based on my own experience as a lead pastor and now a candidate pastor searching for a position. Here are five more strategies to promote the full inclusion of women in church leadership. 1. Use Biblical Narrative Biblical narrative can be a powerful tool in leading people toward paradigm shifts. When our stories are directed by God's story, we are more likely to make intentional changes. As Christians, we must be aware of God's broader plan for humanity. God's over-arching message of inclusion and equality for men and women... Read more

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